Interrogation—Benjamin Whitmer

Who: Benjamin Whitmer

What: Author of PIKE, which was nominated for the 2013 Grand Prix de Littérature Policier; CRY FATHER, recently released from Gallery Books; and co-author (with Charlie Louvin) of SATAN IS REAL, a New York Times’ Critics’ Choice book.

Where: Colorado

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

Yesterday was the Fourth of July. Can you tell me how Patterson Wells, the protagonist of CRY FATHER, would have spent the holiday weekend?

It’d depend. To my mind, holidays only exist if you get the day off work. Right? If you’re making money for somebody else instead of spending it with your friends and family, it’s not a holiday. President’s Day is a bullshit holiday, because nobody gets off work; Christmas is usually a real holiday–though there’s been years I worked it. Fourth of July is a weird one, in that you get it off on some jobs, not on others. It all depends.

That said, I can’t imagine Patterson ever heading to some hot, crowded field to endure Lee Greenwood and Toby Keith for four hours so he can spend 15 minutes pretending to be impressed by fireworks. I question the sanity of anybody doing that who doesn’t have children to make them. I’ll bet he’d just drink some Evan Williams and read Jim Harrison – which I’d consider a better and more patriotic celebration, anyways.

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Interrogation: Erika Krouse

Erika Krouse med-res2MBWho: Erika Krouse

What: Her short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Esquire.com, One Story, Ploughshares, and other magazines and anthologies. Erika’s collection of short stories, COME UP AND SEE ME SOMETIME (Scribner), won the Paterson Fiction Award, was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book of the year, and has been translated into six languages. Erika’s new novel, CONTENDERS, was published by Rare Bird Books in March, 2015, and will also be published by Aufbau-Verlag in Germany. Erika teaches at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, Colorado, and works part-time as a private investigator for Title IX and sexual assault cases.

Where: Boulder, Colorado

Interview conducted by email. Some questions/answers have been edited.

Congratulations! CONTENDERS, was just selected for my office book club. I have already read it, but my ten or so co-workers haven’t. What do you want them to know about your debut novel before they even crack it open?

Yay! I’m so glad, and thank you for the interview. Re: what people should know before reading, that’s a great question, and I don’t know the answer. I hope the book can stand on its own, or I’m in big trouble.

Now I’m worried.

All joking aside, CONTENDERS was one of the most original books I have read this year. How did you develop the concept, voice and tone?

Thank you so much! That’s great to hear. When I started CONTENDERS, I had already been writing a completely different novel for a couple of years. After I realized it was irredeemable crap, I threw it out in favor of a four-word idea: “a woman who fights.” That’s all I had. I was training a lot of martial arts at the time, and was asking questions without finding answers, so this was my way of exploring further.
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